Norwegian sprinter claims first win of season in Middle East

For the third consecutive year Alexander Kristoff won the final stage at Tour of Oman on Sunday, in so doing taking his first victory since joining UAE Team Emirates this season.

The Norwegian sprinted to victory on the Matrah Corniche, beating stage one victor Brian Coquard (Vital Concept) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo).

For a few moments a bunch sprint appeared in doubt when a breakaway survived until the final lap of the finishing circuit on the Corniche on the outskirts of the capital city, Muscat. Remi Cavagna (Quick-Step Floors) had been the last of a five-man group to be taken back with less than five kilometres to ride.

Finishing safely in the bunch, Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) won the general classification.

How it happened

As with the previous stages this week, on the wide dual carriageways bypassing Muscat a breakaway formed soon after kilometre zero. Frenchman Cavagna, Xandro Farazijn (Sport Vlaanderen), Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Pim Ligthart (Roompot-Nederlandse Lotterij) and Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural), all veterans of previous breakaways this week, quickly built a lead of 4.50.

Behind, with a bunch finish likely, and Meurisse 9-29 down, the closest on general classification, the Astana team of race leader Lutsenko left the chase to the sprinter’s teams.

The day’s two classified climbs at 83 and 100km and, on the approach to those and the finishing laps on the Corniche beyond them, the peloton began closing in on the five escapees.

Buy the time the leaders crossed the line for the first of three times,with 22km remaining, the gap was down to 1.15, the bunch toying with the remaining escapees, Cavagna and Ligthart.

In the final kilometres Cavagna went solo, crossing the finish line for the penultimate time with just 30 seconds advantage but with the bunch behind the sprint final became inevitable.

As has been the case in each edition since its introduction in 2010, the overall was won on Green Mountain on Satruday’s queen stage. Lutsenko finishing second there behind team-mate Miguel Angel Lopez, himself taking second on the general classification, winning the young rider’s competition.

Kristoff’s sprint success takes to eight the number of stages the Norwegian has won in Oman, a record for the event.

Top placed British rider was Aqua Blue’s Mark Christian in 35th place, with Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) five places further down.

Former British champion Adam Blythe, who was targeting the stage, was disqualified for taking an irregular bike change late in the 135.5km sage between Al Mouj and Matrah Corniche.

Results

Tour of Oman 2018, stage six: Al Mouj Muscat to  Matrah Corniche, 135.5km

1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates, in 3-11-29
2. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Cycling Club
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
4. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Katusha-Alpecin
6. Davide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
7. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Floris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij, all at same time

Final general classification

1. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana, in 22-49-50 22:49:50
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana, at 11 secs
3. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 28 secs
4. Jesus Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 30 secs
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Katusha-Alpecin, at 32 secs
6. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-05
7. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Esp) Cofidis, at 1-14
8. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 1-24
9. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data, at 1-29
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-37